One of the most anticipated match-up early in the 2014 PBA Governor’s Cup is the “Manila Clasico”, or San Mig Super Coffee Mixers vs. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel. Two of the more popular (if not, most popular) ball clubs in the country will once again square off at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum that will surely draw another huge crowd from both the San Mig and Ginebra fans alike. As a matter of fact, it was this match-up that set the record in gate attendance with 24,883 this season in a Game 7 rout of San Mig against Ginebra in the Semifinals of the Philippine Cup.
Ginebra’s perfect record (3-0) is on the line against San Mig (3-1) looking to extend their winning streak to 3 games after a tough come-from-behind win against Globalport in their last game.
This season, the Mixers have the the upperhand in the “Manila Clasico” match-up. The Mixers have managed to win 6 of their 10 encounters. But this time, its would be a very different ball game as Ginebra has a new Coach in Jeffrey Cariaso, the long-time Assistant Coach of Coach Tim Cone in San Mig. It will be interesting to see how the student goes up against the master in this match.
With the talent and play of Ginebra recently, the Mixers are in for a tough one. What are the things they need to work on to come up with a W? Let’s look at our Keys to the Game.
Keys to the Game
Z.MASON AND GREGZILLA
These 2 guys have been the main reason for Ginebra’s early success this conference. They have an import who seems to be a good fit for them. And Greg Slaughter is nothing but impressive this conference being able to improve his game a whole lot in the offseason and continuing to climb up the ladder in the MVP race this season. Let’s look at their numbers in the 1st 3 games of Ginebra:
The Mixers defense must be wary of these 2 in the paint as they will be the focal point of Ginebra’s offense. I just hope that the post defense of the Mixers will improve in this one after struggling against a hefty Lowhorn in their last game against Globalport. Blakely, Pingris, Ian Sangalang, and the rest of the Mixers’ frontline will have a busy night containing this duo of Ginebra.
DISRUPT GINEBRA’S OFFENSE
Ginebra has been running the triangle just this conference but it is very evident that they are starting to get very comfortable with this offense. They are averaging 17.7 assists per game in 3 ganes this conference. This number is an improvement from last conference wherein they only managed to dish out 16.9 assists per game. When Ginebra moves the ball well it automatically means success for the team. In the Philippine Cup when they finished number 1 in the eliminations, Ginebra averaged 20.5 assists per game.
In this game, San Mig must be able to disrupt the “Triangle” of Ginebra and take advantage of their inexperience (compared to San Mig) in running the it. They must not allow short passes inside from the bigs of Ginebra (Mason and Slaughter leads GSM in assists) as well as from everybody else as 8 Ginebra players are averaging at least an assist this conference.
SPACE THE FLOOR (HIT OUTSIDE SHOTS)
Ginebra has arguably the biggest frontline in the league today in Slaughter and Aguilar. Throw in the mix their import Mason and you have a very imposing presence in the shaded are. Inside points will be hard to come by for the Mixers in this game. Because of this, the shooters of the Mixers must be able to hit their stride early to be able to space up the floor and decrease congestion in the shaded lane. James Yap, PJ Simon, and Joe Devance must be on target as well as Mark Barroca and Allein Maliksi off the bench.
Key Match-up: “Big Game” James vs. Mark “The Spark”
Against each other this season, Mark and James have had a mix of bad games and good games. Let’s look at their scoring against each other in 10 games this season:
An interesting trend in this match-up is that in the first 6 encounters, the player who scores more than the other end up losing the game for their team. However, in the last 4 games, the player who scores more that the other has lead his team to victory. Will the trend in the last 4 games continue in this matchup?
Another question coming into this game is how will “Big Game” James perform. This season, Yap scored his season-high in points against Ginebra (30 points) in Game 7 of the Philippine Cup Semifinals. Also, the date of the game seems to favor “Big Game” James. 7 years ago, June 1, 2007, Yap scored 41 points (career-high) against Welcoat Paints helping Purefoods barge into the wildcard round of that conference. Will we see another “Big Game” from James Yap or will Mark Caguioa “Spark” Ginebra into another win to go 4-0 this conference?